I just got back from a trip to Puerto Rico with my husband without the kids.  First of all, I am amazed that we even pulled it off. As I sat heavily sun-screened under a thatched umbrella, attempting to ward off the hot equator sun, I reflected on what it took to get us there in the first place:

One generous mother-in-law, two gifted adult women babysitters/childcare specialists/goddesses, and two sets of aunts/uncles, and a solid schedule of “who does what”, made it possible for us to leave behind our energetic young brood.

Up to the very last minute I was thinking that I might not make it there in the first place. I thought about sabotaging my own planning efforts by leaving behind my passport. Then I remembered that Puerto Rico is a US territory and I could still get there with my driver’s license. It’s weird to think that I would rather be home with all my kids instead of a Puerto Rican vacation with my husband but up until the day before I left, I really didn’t want to go.

Ultimately, after reassuring myself that the kids would be all right, I let go and packed my suitcase with shorts, flip-flops, and swim suits and readied myself for the travels. We would take a red-eye to Florida and from there head off to San Juan. I was amazed that even though I hate flying red-eye, I didn’t really complain (And I love complaining). Even after the flight was delayed three hours out of SFO, I didn’t say much. I read my celebrity smut, made a few phone calls, and enjoyed people watching as much as I possibly could.

When we finally landed in Puerto Rico, I realized that I brought with me one thing I really had hoped to leave behind: a cold. I sniffled my way around the island but I still didn’t really complain. It was hard to complain in a place that was so beautiful. So instead I sniffled and swam in the warm waters of the Caribbean.

We went to Puerto Rico in the first place because Brent’s company sends their top loan officers and their significant others on an annual trip to celebrate their hard work during the previous year. I must say there is nothing like watching hardworking people unwind. I was also amazed at how many bottles of rum it takes to help them unwind. We took a private snorkeling trip, went on a bioluminescence kayaking adventure, and slept in every day. It was glorious.

But after awhile, I started to miss my kids and I grew tired of comparing my stretched out stomach to the bodies of the other wives on the trip. I remembered a photo I had seen on Facebook of Julia Roberts in a bikini. Her stomach was a little bit wrinkled a puckered from having had children. I was thrilled to see the photo at the time because I could relate in a major way. While in Puerto Rico, I found myself wishing Julia could have been there with me to soften my bathing suit reality. But who knows if that photo was really of her anyway, maybe it was a reverse Photoshop trick.

By the way I was diving into comparison, I could tell I was getting tired of being away, and then I started to miss my kids. I guess absence really does make the heart grow fonder. I knew it was time to return home because I can only pretend to be a person with no children for so long. Then we start to talk about the kids and see other people with their kids and miss our kids too much.

When we got home on Sunday evening the kids were so excited to see us. They practically knocked us down as we came in the door. Harper, my one-year old, gave me the “You left me for the first time” stink-eye stare down but after awhile she smiled and was happy to be held by me.

Now that I have had the opportunity to recharge, I find that I have been calmer with the kids since getting away. I have been more patient and I have stopped a little more to enjoy them. I wish it didn’t take a trip away to get calmer and more patient, but every parent needs to step away from time to time to find himself or herself again. I’m  glad I found myself and brought me back rested, happy, and just a little more pink-skinned than before.